Phil 361 - Relevancy of Ethics in Business

When we consider whether or not ethics are relevant to business we should first find out what exactly it is that we are asking.  Ethics can be referred to as moral principles that we choose, or choose not to adhere.  Business, as a popular term means nothing more than your method of advancing yourself in society.  Business necessitates that you interact with others and since the objective is to advance yourself there is a right way and a wrong way to do that.  Still, one's own advancement is not a moral imperative as far as I am aware so we have no reason to pursue business, or pursue interactions with others.  But back on the word ethics, I should not say it is an awful dilemma.  Ethics are always presumed to be a certain way, but with no authority backing up the claim.  We rely on majority answers to decide was is righteous and what is wicked; but these have no god given authority to absolutely say one way or another.  Consequently, we are left in the dark.  Left could be right, up could be down, black could be white, and most importantly bad could be good.  If anyone objects the universe replies with a hearty "says you".  I am not saying that nobody is correct anywhere; rather, someone could be absolutely right, but they will need to back it up with authority before convincing anybody.

Since business has no moral imperative and has a definitional imperative, and ethics appear foggy it seems pretty grim.  But we shall not be left to anarchy.  At the very least mankind operates as a machine, and a machine must accomplish its task.  If we presume upon this one "must" (moral imperative) then we can actually go somewhere.  Also, if we presume a perspective of today's culture and on American soil then we can get even further.  Ethics, though they are broadly similar, differ on a few points from culture to culture.  Some may be egalitarian and some not; I cannot think of any cultures that encourage murder.  With these two presumptions we may determine the relevancy of ethics to business.  Business would be a way in which we as machines accomplish our tasks.  Though it may seem existential, our finished tasks go on to create other tasks for others to complete.  It never ends.  But the status quo must be kept, otherwise it stalls and becomes a horror.  Our natures seem to run better on good ethic (what it is popularly known to be) rather than bad ethic.  The "bad ethic" moves towards the stall.  A small distinction would be between encouragement and discouragement.  So it should follow that our understanding of good ethics or The Tao is necessary to finishing the task.  Therefore, we must pursue the questions and uncertainties that The Tao presents us if we want to operate in business.

Lastly, can a good business be unethical?  I believe that it can, just not for very long.  Example: A man might heighten his self-esteem by treating everyone else poorly, but he will presently do more damage than good.  Eventually, his actions burned too many bridges for him to improve himself (self-esteem) in a natural order.  The Tao remains the only cost efficient (no pun intended) way for us machines to accomplish our tasks.  Business needs ethics just as much as we presume non-businesses needs ethics.

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